It’s surprising that WWE doesn’t do more tournaments anymore – like their former prestigious tourney King of the Ring – because they’re booming in nearly every other area of pro wrestling. New Japan Pro Wrestling is in the midst of their G1 Climax Series, while on the West Coast of the US you have Pro Wrestling Guerrilla‘s Battle of Los Angeles, in the Pacific Northwest there’s DEFY‘s SUPER 8XGP, Canada has Smash Wrestling‘s The Northern, the East Coast has CHIKARA‘s King of Trios and ECWA‘s Super 8, and for the hardcore, CZW‘s Tournament of Death and GCW‘s Tournament of Survival are staples. Not to mention PROGRESS Wrestling‘s Super Strong Style 16 in the UK and Germany’s wXw‘s 16 Carat Gold. In the Southern and Mid Atlantic scene, the annual tournament that showcases some of the best from that region is the Scenic City Invitational Tournament. Originally started in Georgia’s Empire Wrestling Entertainment (EWE) in 2015, following the promotion’s closure in 2016, the tournament has gone on to become its own entity. Past winners include Joey Lynch (2018), Matt Riddle (2017), Gunner Miller (2016) and Jimmy Rave (2015), with competitors including the likes of Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero), PCO, Mance Warner, Fred Yehi, Nick Gage, Moose, Lio Rush, 2 Cold Scorpio, Darby Allin and many more. Both nights are airing on IndependentWrestling.tv.
Preview: Scenic City Invitational Tournament (8/2/19 – 8/3/19)
Daniel Makabe vs. Tony Deppen
The Canadian indie scene is as politely quiet as its citizens, so most Canadian indie stars fly under the radar or aren’t known as being Canadian. But there’s been an influx of late, with the likes of El Phantasmo in NJPW and UK, Mike “Speedball” Bailey in Europe, and Artemis Spencer, Kobe Durst, and Space Pirates (Shane Sabre & Space Monkey) in the US. Another Canadian star making waves these days is British Columbia’s Daniel Makabe. Makabe actually got his big start in the US Pacific Northwest, working with Seattle’s 3-2-1 GO and joined Vancouver’s Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW) in 2018. This year he’s breaking further into the US indie scene and a strong showing in this year’s Scenic City Invitational will go a long way. He’s facing another grappler who is having a break out year, after years of being just “a good hand”. Tony Deppen has shown an incredible diversity of character and style, being a top regular with both CHIKARA and Game Changer Wrestling (GCW), and he’s already slated for his first PWG BOLA this year. Two incredible mat technicians, this will be a dark horse match of the night.
Jaden Newman vs. AC Mack
Tennessee’s Jaden Newman is only 21-years old, but he’s a 5-year pro in the business already. He works many of the indies in the South and Mid Atlantic, like Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment (AWE), Georgia Premier Wrestling (GPW), and his home state’s Innovate Pro. He’s been featured in several SCI Futures Showcase matches and competed in a couple SCI Rumbles. This marks his SCI Tournament debut. He’s facing off against this year’s winner of the SCI Rumble in AC Mack. At over 235 days, he’s the reigning ACTION Wrestling Champion. He won a hard-fought tournament to capture the inaugural championship that ran from October to December of 2018, so he’s well versed in a tournament setting. A 4-year pro, AC Mack is one of the South’s top prospects, working with Southern Honor Wrestling (where he’s the SHW Champion as well), ACTION, and various others.
Matt Tremont vs. Brett Ison
Easily the most physical match-up of the opening round, featuring two men from opposite ends of their career, who have made a living trying to hurt their opponents. “Bulldozer” Matt Tremont is an American hardcore veteran, a juggernaut of pain who has built a solid eight-year career that has seen him capture World Heavyweight titles in both GCW and Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). Brett Ison is only a few years into his career but has already made waves in IWA Mid South and is now one of the top prospects out of the South. Last November, he defeated Marko Stunt for the Southern Underground Pro (SUP) Bonestorm Championship and he’s held it ever since.
Kevin Ku vs. Nick Iggy
Kevin Ku is another rising wrestler from the South, as he competes with Nashville’s SUP. He’s been making some noise on the US indie scene’s tag team division as part of Violence is Forever (formerly Sadkampf) with Dominic Garrini, but he’s a skilled worker in singles action as well. He’s facing off against another man better known for being part of a tag team, as The Carnies‘ Nick Iggy enters the Scenic City Invitational this year (his partner, Kerry Awful, was entered last year). Two tag team specialists facing off to help increase their resume when it comes to singles competition.
Slim J vs. B-Boy
An East vs West Dream Match from the early 2000s becomes a reality at this year’s Scenic City Invitational. Slim J, originally from Georgia, became an early 2000s star with a young Ring of Honor when he was part of the hugely influential faction Special-K (that also featured a young Jay Lethal and Joey Matthews). He kind of disappeared from major indies as the boom exploded, but toiled away in the Southern indies for years until a resurgence this past year. While Slim J was turning heads in ROH in the early 2000s, B-Boy was doing the same as one of the early faces of PWG on the West Coast. A 3x PWG Tag Team Champion, he was an early influence on the “West Coast offense” of indie wrestling and even had success in the east, as a former CZW World Champion.
JD Drake vs. O’Shay Edwards
JD Drake is another tag team specialist in the tournament – he’s part of The Work Horsemen with Anthony Henry – but he’s no slouch in the singles category either. He held the WWN Championship for 258 days until losing it to Austin Theory in a title unification match with the EVOLVE Championship at EVOLVE 131 on the WWE Network. A throwback to grapplers like Arn Anderson and Stan Hansen, Drake is a hoss. Unfortunately, his opponent isn’t threatened by Drake’s larger frame. O’Shay Edwards is another rising Georgian indie star who is a powerful athlete with all the tools to take down just about anyone. Another regular from ACTION, Edwards could be one of the breakouts of 2020, and a big singles win over Drake would be a huge step in that direction. Darkhorse pick to win the tournament.
Joey Lynch vs. Anthony Henry
Joey Lynch is another Southern veteran who is having a career year. Another tag team specialist (in The Lynch Mob with brother Matt Lynch), he’s arguably tougher to beat in singles. He won last year’s SCI and has broken out of the South and now competes with the likes of Glory Pro, CZW, AAW and more – he even competed last year on an episode of WWE 205 Live. Unlike Ku and Iggy, JD Drake’s tag team partner also entered this tournament. And like Drake, Anthony Henry of the Work Horsemen is just as accomplished as a singles wrestler as he is in tag team competition. He’s the reigning Full Impact Pro World Champion. This will be another solid opening round match-up and it’ll be sad to see either of these men bow out in the first round.
Marko Stunt vs. Billy Buck
Marko Stunt heads into this weekend a year older (he turned 23 this week) and as one of his final indie tournaments of the year (and for some time), as he announced his signing with All Elite Wrestling on Tuesday. The diminutive viral sensation is heading off to the next stage of his career, but he’s still going to want to add a big indie tourney win to his resume. The youngster is facing a Southern veteran in Billy Buck. A long-time regular with Georgia’s NWA Anarchy throughout his 15-year career, he was a 3x Anarchy Champion and 4x Anarchy TV Champion. He’s been working ACTION and other Southern indies the past few years since Anarchy folded in 2015, so a big showing in this year’s SCI will go a long way in elevating Buck back into contention.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can watch both nights of the tournament on IndependentWrestling.tv